War of the Daleks.


Books  I knew when I started this adventure that there would be times when I'd be sighing and wondering whether I should be reading something else.  John Peel's War of the Daleks was a slog and it's taken days to work through the final hundred pages.  I was once scouring an online bookshop and saw this on sale, with a description which suggested this was the work of the late Radio One DJ.  How I'd chuckled.  Now I wonder if the world would have been a better place if that version of the book had existed because really it couldn't have been any worse than this.  And at least it would have been a bit funny and featured some German retro-punk (played at the wrong speed).

It's hard to know what Peel's intent was, although I'm guessing he'd had an idea for a film version knocking around since he tackled the final Target novelisations and was itching for it not to go to waste.  So we have the story of what happens when the crew of a garbage ship find themselves caught in the middle of a skirmish between some Thals and Daleks over a mysterious box which turns out to be the hiding place for Davros.  The Doctor and Sam accidentally find themselves in the middle and are pulled along by events.  I actually quite enjoyed this section of the book - Sam's jealousy of the Thals with their Baywatchian physique is fairly amusing as is the chemistry between The Doctor and the ship's engineer Chayn.

But every now then I felt a twinge of something not right.  Bits of it feel poorly edited.  The Doctor tells Sam that he's a legend amongst the Thals at least twice, and some of the ships geography is confusing.  Plus there are honking great slabs of exposition as The Doctor stands around explaining Dalek history from day one which might well explain the difference between the two factions for new readers but signposts that the rest of the book isn't going to be telling a new story - it's Resurrection of the Daleks all over again in space instead of London and without Rula Lenska.

I actually stopped caring about halfway through the book as Thal infighting hit fever pitch and The Doctor sounded like he wanted to be somewhere else.  The main thrust of the 'story' begins as it becomes apparent that Dalek Prime wants to bring Davros to Skaro for trial and to deal with his faction once and for all.  Read that again.  Yes, that Skaro.  In Chapter 8, the whole of the tv series Dalek continuity is re-written or joined up in an ingenious, annoying, scandalous and ultimately desperate bid to press the reset switch so that Skaro is brought back into existence for the purposes of setting an epic trial scene there, a whole other anonymous planet being destroyed at the end of the McCoy story Revelation of the Daleks.  I actually stopped reading after that and it took me a day to get back - not because I was affronted but because it's twaddle and entirely opposite to why I like Doctor Who - for the good adventure yarns.

I just lost interest, as each arduous action sequence drifted by, Davros and the Daleks double crossed each other over and over with The Doctor having pretty much nothing to do with any of it, apart from explaining to Sam (and the reader) what was happening at the trial and then spending his time instead coping with a booby trapped TARDIS.  To call it professional fan fiction would insult some of the really great fan fiction out there.  Not even the possible demise of a major character could save this ship from sinking.

But hold on - we can pretend it didn't happen.  After all, Big Finish are pretending it didn't happen with the release of Terra Firma which suggests a whole other timeline for The Doctor, Davros and the Daleks.  It might be just as bonkers, but the difference is, it's well written, exciting and heartfelt and above all an adventure!  It might be just as controversial in its own way, but it also ties in to the new series quite well.

I've read the next book, Alien Bodies before and loved it.  I'm looking forward to this …

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